(THE PICKET) – Shepherd University’s new president addressed her plans to boost University funding, create a business incubator, work closer with the community, and continue the liberal arts tradition that has built its reputation.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Picket, Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, whose annual salary is $271,000, said that creating public-private partnerships topped the list of fundraising efforts.
“What it means is that we have a common mission or initiative and then we drop down to the details of it, how are we going to fund it and make it happen. We would have support from the private sector community,” Dr. Hendrix said.
Hendrix gave a brief hypothetical example of how public-private partnerships can help a university in a small town like Shepherdstown.
“For example, restaurants being able to provide some kind of a welcoming program so our members and the people attending this particular program would want to go to these restaurants. That is the private partnership part,” Hendrix explained. “The public part is really the Shepherd part. We would ask our faculty to and our students and staff to provide some instructional part of this program.”
BUILDING COMMUNITY, CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS
Holly Frye, assistant vice president for student affairs, will be taking the new position of director of community and congressional relations, Hendrix said.
“Holly Frye is now going to be the first ever director of community and congressional relations, which is in addition to her role as assistant VP for student affairs. We have asked our staff and faculty to do more with responsibilities. Holly’s job will entail more partnering and networking with all of our community stakeholders and leaders to make sure that Shepherd is enhancing community activities and community activities are enhancing Shepherd activities,” Hendrix said. “Holly has graciously agreed to accept this assignment in addition to her duties as assistant vice president for student affairs. She also will serve as a member of the executive leadership team.”
CREATING A BUSINESS INCUBATOR
According to University Business Global (UBI) Northwestern University is ranked one of the top 10 business incubators in North America. Hendrix said that since Shepherdstown is close to Washington, D.C., she plans to establish a business incubator at Shepherd.
“A center for innovation is one of our goals and it is because of the successful programs like the ones at Northwestern that we are all familiar with. There is so much talent here at Shepherd and in Shepherdstown. If we could offer a venue for a business community to get together with our students, our faculty, and our staff I truly believe they will make a big difference,” Hendrix said.
“I was so impressed with the tour of the sustainability area, the (Byrd) Center, that took place last Friday and so were all of the visitors,” Hendrix added, “What they’re doing and how they’re recycling and repurposing and creating sustainable energy, they also are creating new knowledge. Absolutely, we have every intention to establish one (at Shepherd). All I have to do is find a donor.”
CHIPPING AWAY AT $2 MILLION DEFICIT
Hendrix addressed the $2 million deficit that Shepherd University is facing.
“We’re very transparent and I would love everyone to know about our anticipated debt, what we think we’re going to be at by next year, it’s going to be like $2 million,” Hendrix said.
James Vigil, vice president for administration and interim vice president for finance/CFO, added, “When you include depreciation, it is going to be well over $2 million in terms of a deficit. However, a majority of that deficit resides with what we call our physical plant, which is depreciation. We carry over $7 million on the books for deprecation.”
Hendrix and Vigil mentioned that one of the ways in which the University is raising money to combat the deficit is partnering with the company Ohiopyle Prints, Inc., to sell Shepherd themed merchandise in stores in cities from Fredrick to Martinsburg.
“Members of the community were talking to me about this before I took the job,” Hendricks said. “The money generated from this, and this is a conservative estimate, will be $10,000 to $15,000.”
STORES NOW SELLING SHEPHERD UNIVERSITY MERCHANDISE
When asked if the future of Shepherd will be focused on business or technical education, or traditional liberal arts and humanities education, Christopher Ames, Shepherd’s provost who was included in the interview said, “I think our identity is that our identity has both of those. My mantra here is that we graduate liberally educated students in the profession and professionally prepare students in the liberal arts. Both of those sides are really important to what we’re about.”
“We are a place where somebody who wants to be an accountant or a nurse or teacher or get a business degree can come and have a liberal arts college experience. Those are big programs for us along with recreation studies and health so a lot of our students are in pre-professional programs so we want those to be really strong but we want those students to feel that they’ve had the experience of being at a liberal arts University,” Ames said.